The Offspring

The Offspring Biography

THOUGH they've been accused of everything from lacking originality to neoconservatism to trucking in novelty songs, no one can deny that the Offspring strikes a deep chord within the mosh pits of America. Since releasing its 1994 breakthrough album, the presciently titled Smash, frontman Dexter Holland and his Southern California-based bandmates have refuted the naysayers and enjoyed multiplatinum sales, a rare occurrence these days for a band clinging to the last vestiges of the alternative movement. With the MTV-fueled "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" blasting ubiquitously from boom boxes throughout the land, the Offspring even began to garner critical respect. At the very least, "Pretty Fly"'s gleeful castigation of the 'N Sync-Backstreet Boys set reflects a philosophy that's easy to embrace.

The Offspring's beginnings can be traced to 1983, when Bryan (AKA Dexter) Holland and his high school track mate Greg Kriesel decided to form a band after attending (and being turned away from) a Social Distortion show. Holland, who had developed an inordinate fondness for hardcore punk bands during his senior year (he was also class valedictorian, so go figure) laid claim to guitar duties, while Kriesel settled upon bass. Though neither had played an instrument before, the two proved fast learners, and with the addition of second guitarist Kevin Wasserman (AKA "Noodles"), and drummer Ron Welty (each of whom replaced other players), the quartet set about honing its chops.

Ever ambitious in his academic career, Holland entered USC in the fall of 1985 and began splitting his time between the band (then called Manic Subsidal) and premed studies. Wasserman, meanwhile, attended junior college, while Kriesel worked toward a degree in finance and Welty studied electronics at a local trade school. Despite their grueling schedule, the band managed to find time for weekend rehearsals, which took place in an upstairs area of the Kriesel family's home.

From the start, songwriting duties for the band (which by 1986 had rechristened itself the Offspring) fell to Holland, whose style mimicked that of the groups he read about in fanzines like Flipside and Maximumrocknroll. Sporting titles like "Police Protection" "Sorority Bitch," and "Very Sarcastic," his compositions centered on a thrash-metal-punk aesthetic that, while derivative, evidenced the seeds of a sound more commercially viable than Holland's hardcore heroes. In 1987, the band scraped together enough money to self-release a 7-inch single, but they were barely able to find takers for the 1,000 copies they had printed up. After two years of steady rejections from record companies, however, in 1989 the Offspring managed to snag a contract with a tiny, San Diego-based punk label called Nemesis.

Under the direction of producer Thom Wilson, who had manned the boards for some of the Offspring's favorite bands, the group released another 7-inch titled "Baghdad," which was then quickly followed by a full-length, self-titled debut. Though the album went nowhere, the band carried on with heroic persistence. Eventually, the group's contributions to a couple of underground punk compilations (as well as a handful of new demos) attracted the attention of Epitaph Records owner (and ex-Bad Religion guitarist) Brett Gurewitz. As Gurewitz later told Rolling Stone magazine: "[The demos] definitely had what people call the Epitaph sound — high energy, rebellious punk with great melodies and cool economical song structures." Released in 1992, the album based on those demos (titled Ignition) became an indie hit, and sold more than 380,000 copies.

Impressive as those sales were, however, they were nothing compared to the monumental success that was to greet the Offspring just two years later. Released in the heat of the so-called "punk revivalist" movement, the band's 1994 album, Smash, became just that. On the strength of the MTV favorites "Come Out and Play" and "Self Esteem," Smash's sales eventually topped 5 million, making the album the most commercially successful independent effort of all time. While some critics bemoaned the band's tendency toward novelty clichés and its blatant seduction of the skate-punk crowd, no one could question the group's savvy when it came to appealing to the spiked-head kids.

Rather than sit back and relish the fame thrust upon them in the aftermath of Smash, Holland and Kriesel elected to pour their earnings into their own startup label — called Nitro — in 1995. Though many felt the motivation to launch the label lay in a falling-out with Gurewitz — and indeed, a confrontation did occur later that year — in truth, the Offspring simply wanted to provide a forum for favorite band's such as Guttermouth and the Vandals. However, in 1996 the group did in fact leave Epitaph for Columbia Records, which offered them less money but more artistic control. Holland explained this decision to Request in an interview in 1997: " … As we got bigger and the label got bigger, I kept hearing rumors that [Gurewitz] wanted to sell [Epitaph] …. At that point, we were, like, 90 percent of the label's sales. I felt like we were being sold off, like a … commodity. It's like, whether we wanted to or not, we were gonna be on a major label. We at least [wanted] to make the choice for ourselves."

Released in February of 1997, the Offspring's major label debut, Ixnay on the Hombre, met with a lukewarm response, generating only a fraction of the sales of Smash. Still, with nearly a million units moved to date, the album hasn't exactly languished in obscurity, and the song "Gone Away" was an alternative rock staple for a while.

Regardless of the diminished attention, the band still did its part for a variety of environmental and social causes. In 1997, along with their friend Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys), Holland co-founded a benefit organization titled F.S.U., whose goal is "to promote economic justice, provide support to critical social services, help restore and maintain a healthy environment, and defend human rights." Several benefit concerts have been staged by the organization, with proceeds going to charities specified by the foundation's Board of Directors.

The band's fortunes took yet another turn in November of 1998. That's when the foursome unleashed Americana (the working title for the album, incidentally, was You're Too Fat to Make Porn), which debuted within a flurry of tour dates. In a promotion for the album, the band's overachieving lead singer Holland — who had recently earned his pilot's license — flew one lucky fan to the Las Vegas gig in his own single-engine four-seater plane.

So far Americana appears on track to eclipse Smash as a multiplatinum sensation. The album, aided by a colorful, humorous video for "Pretty Fly" (directed by McG) and the catchy single "Why Don't You Get a Job?," has been a mainstay in the Top 10 of the charts — peaking at No. 2 — almost since its release. The success of the album has led the quartet play to packed houses on an extensive tour of North America.

As to the future possibility of Dr. Bryan "Dexter" Holland, well, the singer's pursuit of a Ph.D. in microbiology is temporarily on hold. "Basically, the band became more important to me," he told Wall of Sound in a recent interview. "I was juggling both for awhile, and once Smash came out, I really had to make a decision. For the time being, I decided to go with the music and do that for awhile. I'd love to finish the thing, but I just need a solid chunk of time I just can't devote to it now. I talk to my old professors a few times a year. They were shocked, like, 'What are you thinking? You've got this great opportunity, and you're going to waste your time being in a band?' They didn't really realize what was going on."

The Offspring Bio from Discogs

Brian "Dexter" Holland : Vocals, guitar

Kevin "Noodles" Wasserman : Guitar, vocals

Gregory "Greg K" Kriesel : Bass, vocals

Pete Parada : Drums

Ron Welty : Drums, vocals (1987-2003)

Adam "Atom" Willard: Drums (2003-2007)

In 1984, this punk rock band, known as Manic Subsidal, started to perform. At that time the members were Brian Holland (vocals, guitar), Greg Kriesel (bass, vocals) and James Frederick Lilja (drums).

James Lilja left the band in 1987 and former Clowns of Death guitarist Kevin Wasserman and Ron Welty joined and they now called themselves The Offspring when they were performing.

In 2003 Ron Welty left the band and they had no drummer in about a half year, but Atom Willard joined the group in the ending of 2003. That's the reason why they used a studio-drummer, Josh Freese, on the Splinter album.

Four years later, Atom Willard left the band in 2007 and was replaced by former Face To Face drummer Pete Parada. Josh Freese was hired again to record the drum tracks for the Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace album.

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